Salvaging a dead transaction: when a client refuses to sign.

Never underestimate the power of a cup of coffee

A few months ago I met with a client at their home in the Woodinville area. After introducing ourselves to each other we sat down at the kitchen table and started going over paperwork and loan documents. The gentleman slowly started to go over the loan documents in a methodical manner which is not unusual. Prior to each signing appoinment one of the very first things I mention to our client is that I’m not in a rush and they can take all the time they need. I indicate that there are a few important documents they need to pay particular attention to while the other bulk of the loan package is a series of disclosures, much of which is boilerplate and typical of most lender loan packages.

Probably 15 minutes into the signing it was evident that the demeanor of the client was changing. Not only was the scrutiny of the documents going slowly but question after question started to flow, one after the other. The client decided to stop the appointment and make a phone call to his loan officer. After a brief discussion, the client hung up the phone and informed me that the transaction would be on hold.

Naturally, your mind starts to spin a bit and I sensed that the gentleman wanted to digest the information more carefully, perhaps without the pressure of anyone being present. I informed the client that it was not a problem and I would be in touch to schedule another time to mutually get together and sign the documents.

coffee cup

We’ve been in each other’s company for about an hour by this time and I told him to “not worry about the transaction, at least I met another new friend!” At this point the gentleman offered me a cup of coffee. Hmm. That sounded really good and was my invitation to build trust. We sat down at the table over the coffee. I’ve never had a better brewed latte—this guy really knew what he was doing. Silky smooth and wonderful. We started to discuss absolutely everything: his house, our families, kids, the real estate market, interest rates, etc….

The gentleman was from Turkey and it was another lesson in assisting clients from other cultures and the way in which you build trust. The rest is history. Three and a half hours later I had a happy client, happy customers (loan officer/agent), and signed documents in my hand ready for a funding package to be completed and overnighted to the lender.